One day, after working as a yoga teacher and wilderness therapy guide for nearly ten years, I had a very clear and direct message from the universe I needed to start a therapeutic adventure program for teen girls from various walks of life. I had become acutely aware of how trauma was stored in the body and deeply invested in cultivating ways in which to release pain through expressive arts and therapeutic yoga practices in wilderness settings.
I vision boarded for months. I created a mission statement: To help women and teens heal from trauma and cultivate joy through therapeutic yoga, art, and adventure experiences. I had three white boards secured to my small cabin wall and I created layers upon layers of program ideas until I whittled it down to a community yoga center and summer adventure treks for self-identified teen girls.
My first step: Move away from rural Pennsylvania and back to my home state of Arizona. I set up Deva Healing Center near Prescott College, a small liberal arts school specializing in adventure education and human rights and social justice curriculum. I painted the walls Caribbean blue and cultivated a thriving healing arts space where many community healers offered bodywork services and a variety of classes, workshops, and retreats. I taught therapeutic yoga local residents and felt satisfied....for a while.
Sooner than I expected, I was yearning for the deep soul work of connecting with humans during nature-based expeditions. I developed a 3-week program called Deva SoulJourneys. After a time, I marketed this program to Summer Search, a nationwide mentoring program, who graciously said, "no, thank you." They were "not accepting new summer programs at that time." Although my heart fell I was still hopeful and, low and behold, received an e-mail just a few months later saying they connected with the Doug Capelin, the founder of Deer Hill Expeditions (a company I had worked with for many years) and had been convinced they should should add Deva SoulJourneys to their list of summer program offerings.
That was six ago. Deva SoulJourneys started with two instructors (me and my good friend, Bekah Hykan), one intern (Cholla Holdeman), and one wilderness therapy dog (Kaya), and a whole lot of heart and vision. Since then, it has grown to include over eight instructors, an expressive arts therapist, a logistics crew, several therapy dogs, and a variety of Summer Search alumna interns. We have nearly 40 self-identified young women joining us for our 2019 Deva SoulJourneys!!!
This year we are based out of the Uinta Mountain Range just east of Salt Lake City. There are gorgeous glacial lakes and epic backcountry scenery to enjoy. We are also offering a multi-day rafting section near Flaming Gorge as our peak experience on each of the four SoulJourneys this summer. Next fall, Deva is relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are building our dream retreat center and will host our summer programming out of that space. Stay tuned!